Maponya's legacy lives on through township economy

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Revered businessman Richard Maponya has left behind a legacy that extends well beyond the brick and mortar of his companies, says President Cyril Ramaphosa. 

“Through his struggles and successes, he forever changed the face of business in South Africa. In return for all he gave to his people and to this country, his head was anointed with oil and his cup overflowed,” said the President while delivering the eulogy at Dr Maponya’s funeral. 

Following the passing of the doyen of black business on 6 January 2020, President Ramaphosa declared an official State funeral in honour of Maponya. 

The funeral service took place at the University of Johannesburg’s Soweto Campus on Tuesday. 

Maponya’s funeral service was teeming with esteemed guests, among them former Presidents Thabo Mbeki and Kgalema Motlanthe and Mrs Motlanthe; Speaker of the National Assembly, Thandi Modise, chairperson of the National Council of Provinces, Amos Masondo, Mama Graça Machel and Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi. 

In his formative years, Maponya, a trained teacher, took up a job at a fabric and clothing store in downtown Johannesburg while awaiting a teaching assignment. It is here where he first cut his teeth as a salesman in the retail space, ultimately positioning him for opportunities in the retail supply chain. 

Together with his late wife, Marina, a qualified social worker who practised for a short while before joining her husband, the couple went on to establish a milk business called Dube Hygienic Shop. 

With businesses such as supermarkets, motor franchises, petrol stations and bottle stores, Maponya established a successful business empire.

President Ramaphosa hailed Maponya as an ethical and principled businessman. 

“He was appalled at the practices of some businesses that provided substandard services and inferior goods because the public they served were poor. 

“He encouraged young people to be disciplined, demonstrate initiative and to be serious about training and studying,” said the President. 

A visionary, Maponya realised a lifelong dream of establishing the largest regional mall in a township - Maponya Mall. 

“His story is a window to the mean-spiritedness of the apartheid regime on the one hand, but a tale of triumph over adversity, on the other. He was a champion of black business. 

“He was adamant that economic development begins in communities and saw the great potential of the township economy. Like a true entrepreneur, he could always spot an opportunity,” said the President. 

The recipient of the Order of the Grand Counsellor of the Baobab in Silver for his excellent contribution to entrepreneurship despite oppressive apartheid conditions, Maponya will be laid to rest at West Park Cemetery. –